Winter Roost

Where winter trees give off their carbon light,
where the barn stands like a wedge,
between the soil and the sun,
there the starlings flock and fall,

in the push and pull of nature’s habit,
instinctively, they form and reform,
as a suggestion,
as a line,
as a direction to take,

like iron filings they twist and turn,
to suit the magnet’s elemental pull,
to confuse the hawk’s invading mind,
then sheer just as suddenly to roost,
where reeds conspire to hide them.

The view from here:

This is the order of things,
sky, hills, valley, lake, soil:
the blue viewpoint symbol on the map
is like a raindrop exploding,
it shows us where to stop, which way to face,
which way to take a breath and hold it all in.
From here the seams of walls and roads shine
in the afterglow of a summer’s evening light,
they stitch and weave their running folds,
across fields and hills that fall away as a wave rolls,
rushing to meet their own sun washed horizon.
Through this ancient scenic route a river ribbons,
cutting a course through the valleys ocean floor,
where ammonites unearthed, crack under foot and hoof,
and where ferns uncurl to birdsong and rain.
From where we stand, we can see in the valley’s palm,
a lake scattering light like a mirror smashed,
at its edge fishermen cast their patience to the stars,
and describe the water’s surface with their silver lines.

In the garden of the night:

In the garden of the night
birdsong ripples on
the still moonlit lawn,
a glass of wine half remembered,
grows its skin of frosted ice,
eyelid thin,
in the thick black air
inebriated moths flit across the borders,
insomniacs blindly feathering the dark,
in the farthest reaches of the garden,
chained at the fence’s edge,
a rabid dog bites at imagined rain,
above its fevered head,
a rookery explodes in psychosis,
lost in the garden of infinite nothings,
where the stars are pulled to earth
and the moon sows its madness.


In the pheromone filled night,
feathered antennae dust the moon’s
nectar heavy pool of black perfume.
Moth mouse fur and tympanal ears,
drum the air for scent,
each instinctive insect thought
folds the air under pollen powdered wings,
and a toe, gently taps the petals invite.
This moth like an emperor in ermine,
floats majestic around his walled garden,
where, visible only to the ultra-violet eye,
sweet misted midnight veils
plume and drift and rise.
This is the inner insect psyche,
where the tips of probing tongues uncurl,
uproot and quiver drown, in sugar scented wells.

The stone:

You dipped your finger into the river.
Light fragmented and splintered
at the point of your touch,
the water’s surface bent like mercury in retreat.

Without asking you forced your way
into the green flowing bed,
and it swallowed you up to the elbow.
You became the primitive angler,
fishing in the eye of heaven, panning for gold.

Finally, a stone, the right one,
filled your cold fist,
numbed your senses dry,
whilst the river rolled around you,
twisting at your wrists.

With a shout you landed the catch at my feet,
stunned I lay down, with my ear to the ground,
listened for a heartbeat,
watched the stone shine.

The Yard:

A pig’s knuckle bone stripped to the marrow
is thrown to the dog. A snarl of matted fur
wet from the constant metal rain.
Its muzzle caged head resists the weather of men,
turns and sniffs the porcelain white bone,
heaves once more upon its cruel malnourished ribs.

In the chained up doorway
a carcass hangs like a veiled threat,
curing in the flies buzzing heat.
It’s a dance to a death watch waltz
that pirouettes and swings, dripping sequins of fat.

On this ground, this field, this yard,
a butcher’s leather apron
lies in oil and mud.
The scars of steel and hoof
swim in the steam of slaughter.

Shining balloons of intestines overflow,
finding split and folded skin,
livid green and pink their drum,
and all the while the grey rain spits and arcs
on the corrugated roof,
cleaning out the gutter’s blood lust.

The bucket:

In an attempt to prove that God didn’t exist,
I filled a bucket with water,
and like a windmill’s clock,
spun a fly wheel around my body’s axle.
The blood fizzed in the bell of my eyes,
ear drums warped to a beat,
or the shock of a clot,
fit to burst my melon tender head,
and I spun that bucket like a fairground ride
in the hands of the damned and the fallen.

My question answered, I wound down time,
counting the seconds in: this gravity
that pushed an ocean up against its wall,
and boiled the plastic astronaut in his metal box,
had slowed my heart to an almost stop.
The bucket rested in my blistered hand,
the water sparkled in its sun soaked sky,
not one drop spilt.
Disappointed, I sat down on the grass,
out of breath and dizzy as a saint.

The iron:

The iron stands on top of its
church, the last hint of grey
like a bishop’s gun metal mitre.
Its scorched tip and edge
speaks of men who burnt
their tongues on words
they’d never said,
or of fools blinded in the heat,
who forgot to spit instead.

The wilderness of silence:

We lay there drawn down deep
into the belly of the night,
two lovers lost in the lanes of the dark,
feeling our way with quickening breaths,
back home across the valleys and shouldered hills
that in perfect stillness wait for morning.

Outside our rooftop room a curlew’s
lonely lofted call drifted across
the moon’s silver dusted moor,
and a sea mist rolled up against our window,
softening the eye of each incoming storm
that gripped like a hand claws at the sweat soaked bed……

……and we watched Venus hold us in its glow,
lay there moved to admire how the world
turns and nothing remains forever,
save the memory of nights like this,
and the wilderness of silence,
held in a kiss.

in all aspects:

… you walked through the doorway
light followed in all aspects,
pearlescent, iridescent, a prismatic dawn,
and blood in the heart stopped to applaud,
to embrace and to fall in
the moment, drunk
on the love that I’d found.


Out of the bedroom’s pocket watch dark,
the lampshade curls an edge of white,
a new moon hanging in its box
picture book stars, headlights
passing in the fox hide night,
draw the phases new to old,
and back again to a lunar eclipse,
that slowly creeps across the walls,
orbiting the pillow locked dreams of
those who silently turn planets in their sleep.

The Pier:

An iron armature,
barnacle clamped and riveted,
fastening moonlight
to the shifting sands below,
anchored by the lure
of the fisherman’s prayer,
caught somewhere between the land and the tide,
patient at the estuary’s turn,
like a camera’s canvas extension,
or some Darwinian finger suspended
above the waves push and pull.

The Pier, in spar beam and arch
points to a time when,
in the steamer’s wake,
gills became lungs
and scientists gave names to the sea.


In the morning we talked about
how language is a music,
how French is like a river
or how the warmth of the sun
can bend a word in the mouth
like a grape pressed into the tongue.

The anatomy of leaves:

Summer, as a child, sat beneath
a canopy of cool oak trees,
the picnic rug a plaid runway for wasps.
Adult conversations washed over me,
lost in the soft whispered breeze of the leaves.

Bored, I’d start to pick out the flesh of a leaf,
a sculpture in reverse,
taking out more than was put in.
Not some daisy chain poesy,
this was a lesson in basic anatomy,
to search out the spine, the vein and the artery.
Carefully I teased out each green stomata,
lifting the lung from its root.
Often a ventricle snapped,
scrunched up, collapsed,
and in a fit of frustration,
teeth spat out hissed blasphemies,
no choice now but to start all over again.

Once completed, the skeletal membrane
help up and pinned in the light, was as fine
as the lead in a cathedral window,
and the sun and the summer air poured through,
taking all the colours around within.

The greyhound:

Stretched out under the bar stool,
a sheen of ghost white fur rises
and falls on each dreaming breath.
Stubbs once drew the skin back,
to show muscle, sinew and bone,
all locked in its rightful place,
a birth line bred for speed.
A single canine ivory tear
Curled back against the lip,
Itches for the soft peel
And pull of a rabbit’s hide.
The spine arches like a line of hills,
that recede and diminish with distance,
taking the weight of the horizon’s turn
at full pelt.
The ribbed body, the tail,
An arrow’s head complete,
biting at the chase,
released from their trap,
heels turn dust to steam.